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Jewish Children Find Refuge in Israel from War in Bosnia

Some 70 Jewish children and 20 adults from war-torn Sarajevo made their way last week to Israel via Budapest, many of them leaving parents and other family members behind.

Although the travelers hope eventually either to return to their homes in Bosnia-Herzegovina or be reunited in Israel with the rest of their families, the farewells seemed tragic, reminding some of the way children were evacuated from Nazi-occupied Europe at the beginning of World War II.

The sadness was compounded by the fact that many Jews who wish to leave Sarajevo cannot, said Tuvia Raviv, a Jewish Agency official in Budapest who is responsible for the aliyah of Jews from the former republics of Yugoslavia.

“Several hundred Jews are still there in Sarajevo. We are trying to get them out,” said Raviv, who is in everyday telephone contact with the Jewish community there.

But although the situation is very bad in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where corpses line the streets, there has been no singling out of Jews in the pitched ethnic battles between the Christian Serbs and Moslem Slavs, he reported.

There are more than 5,000 Jews living in the former republics of Yugoslavia, most of them in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. With no war raging there, Jews are remaining for now, Raviv said.

Jews hesitate to leave their property, which is more jeopardized than their Jewishness, he said.

According to Raviv, some 400 Yugoslav Jews have left for Israel since the ethnic fighting began last August, a quarter of whom were children between the ages of 10 and 18.

They are among the hundreds of thousands of Yugoslav refugees who have left in recent months for the West, mostly for Western Europe.

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